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What you need:
  • Pruners and loppers
Prune summer blooming shrubs in early spring (March-early April) before or just as new leaves unfold (prune springtime bloomers right after they flower) to encourage vigorous new stems from the woody framework. The new growth will bear flowers later in the year
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Butterfly bush (shown here), hardy hibiscus, Caryopteris, Russian sage, Leycestria, and hardy fuchsia respond to this technique. Begin by removing damaged, weak or spindly stems. Then thin out stems that are too close together. Cut back to a healthy branch or to the base of the plant.
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Now prune back hard the remaining stems, cutting back all of last year's wood to an outward facing bud that is 3-4 buds from the woody framework.
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Here's how our butterfly bush looks after pruning. This summer, it will reward us with plenty of new growth and blooms.